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Mano a Mano

Ted Cruz challenged Trump to debate him 'mano a mano'.

After Donald Trump announced that he would skip a GOP debate, Ted Cruz challenged him to a one-on-one “mano a mano” debate: “I’m happy to go an hour and a half mano a mano, me and Donald with no moderators any time before the Iowa caucuses.”

Mano a mano means “in direct competition or conflict especially between two people.” It comes from the Spanish phrase that literally means “hand to hand.” Some English speakers might assume that it’s an alteration of “man to man,” which makes sense from the way the phrase is used in English. (Ted Cruz is of Cuban heritage, and likely knows the Spanish origin and translation of the term.)

The term mano a mano comes from bullfighting. Usually there are six bulls and three bullfighters, or matadors in the ring; a mano a mano is a variation that is a duel between two matadors, each killing two or three bulls. (A toreador is a more generic term for “bullfighter” and may refer to members of the team assisting the matador, who has the principal role and who finally kills the bull with a sword.)

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